Shell Vito: Bring your passion to work
Offshore platforms like the Shell Vito floating production facility are remote islands that people come together to live and work. So, it’s no surprise that the deep-water community is so much more than just a team. They are a family and one that has had to rally together to remain competitive.
On February 16, we celebrated, we celebrate first oil at Vito, Shell’s 13th deep-water development within the Gulf of Mexico. But Vito is no ordinary deep-water development.
“Recently, we had the opportunity to bring our families down to see the Vito platform in person,” said Eirik Sorgard, Project Business Opportunity Manager (BOM) for the project. “For about an hour that day, I was cool in the eyes of my two teenagers. Suddenly, all those late-night conference calls with Singapore, all the work travel, all the long hours, it all made sense to them when they saw what we had built.”
In a way, offshore platforms are remote islands that people come together to live and work on. So, it’s no surprise that the deep-water community is so much more than just a team. They are a family and one that has had to rally together to remain competitive.
Their response resulted in Vito, Shell’s first deep-water platform in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) to employ a simplified, cost-efficient host design.
“Vito is an excellent example of how we are approaching our projects to meet the energy demands of today, while remaining resilient as we work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” said Zoë Yujnovich, Shell’s Upstream Director. “Building on more than 40 years of deep-water expertise, projects like Vito enable us to generate greater value from the GoM, where our production has amongst the lowest greenhouse gas intensity in the world for producing oil.”
At its permanent new home in the Mississippi Canyon area, Vito has a bright future ahead in Shell’s Gulf of Mexico deep-water portfolio. But its future wasn’t always so clear.
“My grandfather worked in this business; my father worked in this business; I love this business,” said Kurt Shallenberger, Project Manager for Vito. “So many of us in the deep-water community grew up in this business. And back in 2014, there was a sense that our family was in trouble. We had to find a way to be more competitive if this family was going to survive.”
Vito was originally envisioned to be a very different project but Shell’s priorities shifted over time. The question for the team became, ‘how do we get the most value from each barrel as we can?’
“It was clear we needed to make smarter choices,” said Kurt. “It’s like buying a new truck. A smaller truck may do everything you need, but sometimes we buy the bigger truck even if we don’t need it. We’ve all been tempted to buy the bigger vehicle or even the bigger house, but that’s not always the most efficient or sustainable choice in the long run.”
With the future of the project and a business they love in their hands, it was back to the drawing board for the Vito team.
Vito’s original host design was simplified and rescoped to make it a third of the size (topsides and hull), but even with this reduced size, they were able to create a platform with an estimated peak production of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day. The smaller design also meant a reduction of approximately 80% in CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the facility as well as a cost reduction of more than 70% from the original host concept.
“I am so proud of the team and all the passion and creativity they brought to the redesign of Vito,” said Eirik. “The same team, the same engineers who designed Old Vito, they rose to the new challenge we gave them. And they poured all their talent and their capabilities into the new design.”
The team became experts at identifying and eliminating waste, guided by a mantra, ‘Advancing deep-water together through care and simplicity.’ The team rescoped and simplified the Vito development. During this process, they reimagined the project.
“Vito is a blueprint for the future of deep-water projects that will pave the way for other deep-water developments through innovation and simplification. With its simplified and replicable design, Vito will help provide more energy to people while shaping Shell’s deep-water business to develop resources as competitively and responsibly as possible.”Harry Brekelmans, Shell’s Projects & Technology Director
What Vito means for the future
“The original Deep Water teams that came before us were charged with making the impossible possible,” said Kurt. “Our job has been to make the possible affordable. If we look at the evolution of Shell Deep Water, the pioneers who came before us were building ground-breaking projects and Vito is a smaller commercially-focused solution.”
Vito’s simplified hull design reduces operating expenses since it requires less maintenance. Its simplified mooring design requires less equipment, less capital investment and reduces maintenance safety exposures to operators. And by limiting the topside weight to 10,000 short tons, this new design is less complex to operate and less expensive to build.
Now that Vito has achieved first oil, we have completed the project-to-asset handover and Vito has transitioned to the Operations team. “For five years now, the Operations and GoM Natural teams have played an integral role in preparing for a world-class start-up of the Vito development,” said Jose Rincon, Vito Operations Manager. “There is so much passion and excitement within the team about Vito’s future and both the empowerment, and responsibility, that comes with operating this brand-new asset safely and efficiently.”
Bring your passion to work
“The work we have done on Vito was so much more than just a paycheck,” said Eirik. “I love the challenges we work on in Upstream. It’s less about the technical and more about the diversity of the different people we have had the privilege of working with every day. I truly enjoy what we are doing. I find it fascinating and meaningful. And if I had any advice for anyone, it is to bring your passion to work, every day.”
“I have worked on five continents as a driller,” said Eirik. “I’ve worked in places where there are no light switches on the walls and people don’t have access to affordable energy. The work we’re doing matters. We are improving peoples’ lives for the better. What could be cooler than that?”
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